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Activist sent to 104 years in jail by Myanmar junta
That the Burmese military junta continues to bare its fangs and is going all out to crush dissidence before the 2010 general elections is more than apparent. It has sentenced a 21-year old student activist to an astonishing 104 years in prison.
WITH THE Myanmar military junta's proposed general elections slated for 2010, the regime has stepped up its persecution of activists belonging to the Opposition and those related to the democracy movement. The spate of arrests continues and the junta's courts have been handing out ludicrously long terms in prison.

The latest sentencing is shocking. The military authorities have sentenced a 21-year old student activist to an appalling 104 years in prison, which is the longest term so far. The last time in the recent past that the regime courts announced lengthy prison terms was 68 years to a blogger and a comedian towards the end of last year. With total disregard to basic norms of justice the student Bo Min Yu Ko, was sentenced in a trial without access to legal counsel to defend him, the Myanmar media in exile reports quoting, the Thailand based Assistant Association of Political Prisoners.

The activist, also known as Phyo Gyi, is a member of the All Burma Federation of Students Union (ABFSU) in Upper Myanmar and was picked up by the police on September 13, last year.

The clampdown of democracy activists and political members have been on since the height of students and monk-led uprising demanding a roll back in the unprecedented rise in fuel prices which had jacked up costs of essential commodities causing immense hardship to the common man. The protests which snowballed had the Myanmar Army cracking down on demonstrators against the military government. Many were killed (shot and beaten to death) and thousands arrested, in September 2007. There has been no let up on the crack down on dissidents ever since.

Bo Min Yu Ko, was charged under various acts including association with illegal organizations, disrespect to the nation and on six counts of the Immigration Act, media reports added. He is now in Ohbo Prison in Burma's second largest city, Mandalay. The trial was conducted there.

That the junta is going all out to crush dissidence before the 2010 general elections, which is part of its seven-step road map to so called "disciplined democracy", has been becoming more than apparent. It has debarred detained Nobel Peace Laureate and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from contesting the polls questioning her right since she married an Englishman. Political parties abolished after the 1990 general elections, where the regime refused to hand over power to Suu Kyi's party, which recorded a landslide victory, will in all probability not be allowed to contest.

Ever since the junta got the new constitution approved in May 2007, having rigged it all the way, it has been in relentless pursuit of dissidents against the regime. Its brutality and ruthless repression has found new expression in the lengthy prison terms it has been handing out to young activists. In December 2007, the Ohbo prison court sentenced 10 other ABFSU members including a woman activist Kay Thi Aung, said to be five months pregnant, to more than 20 years in jail each, Myanmar media in exile says.

The flurry of sentences of activists began in August 2008 and has been continuing intermittently, with no let up. Till now more than 250 political activists have been sentenced to various terms in prison despite all round condemnation by the international community.

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